Samyukta Iyer and Janvi Parekh bag India’s first-ever silver at the Young Lions at Cannes

CANNES: It’s not just the Lions of India; even the cubs are roaring at the weeklong International Festival of Creativity at Cannes. Samyukta Iyer and Janvi Parekh have won India’s first-ever silver at the Young Lions competition.

Iyer is a brand manager on Lakme Innovations (Skin) and her colleague, Parekh, a senior brand executive on Vaseline at Hindustan Unilever (


). The two Leverites won the trophy at the gruelling three-day show — Young Lions Marketers Competition.

Iyer and Parekh won the Young Lions competition supported by the Times Group and organised by the Advertising Agencies Association of India. Their prize: an all- expenses paid trip to Cannes and the opportunity to participate in one of the toughest and also the most inspiring programs at the festival.

Their job was to create a campaign, from scratch. In 24 hours, they turned a few words on a white A4 sheet into a full-fledged campaign covering the 6 Ps of marketing — Product, Place, Price, Promotion, People and Purpose.

The campaign they created involved a commercial brand initiative tied with a larger cause led by World Food Programme, the client in this case.

Iyer and Parekh began with a simple statistic. One in every three starving children in the world is Indian. The campaign they created around the legacy food brand Kissan from the HUL stable was called the Yellow Lunch Box. All every mother who has ever packed her child’s lunch has to do is prepare a little extra food. After recess, the half-full lunch box is deposited at Kissan Food Stations across schools. The boxes could then be picked up by dabbawallas to distribute to kids who barely manage to get one square meal a day.

The idea for the campaign came within minutes of getting the brief, but it took long brainstorming sessions and practising their presentation for the judges all through the night to get them India’s first award in the Young Lions competition. During the presentation, the judges went into extra time over the allotted 15 minutes to ask more questions about the campaign and suggested the scalable idea not be confined to the competition alone.

The hard work paid off. When ET caught up with them at Cannes, Iyer and Parekh said, “It might sound odd but we felt like sportspersons do when they win medals for their country.” They even brought the tricolour from home to wave the flag on stage. “It’s not about the inpidual, it’s about something bigger than you and me. We feel like we made our country proud.”

Says Nandan Srinath, director — response, Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL), “Samyukta and Janvi’s work had stood out quite visibly even in the India leg when they were competing to be the winning team to go to Cannes.”

The Times of India Group is the ‘official’ representative in India for the Cannes Lions and Spikes Asia. Three teams are supported and sponsored every year for the Young Lions and Young Spikes selected from a local competition we run across print, marketer and media categories.